Sometimes, the most offbeat cures of yesteryear were actually legit. Though how or why they worked might not have been understood, people simply knew that they did work.
Take this treatment for asthma from 1903 that uses pineapple. That probably sounds highly improbable, given that today, with pineapple far more readily available than it was a century ago, it’s not what you’ll reach for first to ease asthma. During an attack, you’re going to reach for the inhaler, filled with albuteral, which provides immediate relief. It was first marketed as Ventolin in 1968.
Pineapples are bromeliads. The pineapple extract bromelian was first isolated in 1891. But bromelian wasn’t promoted as a therapeutic supplement until 1957. Bromelian is an anti-inflammatory agent. Research at the University of Connecticut has shown that this enzyme really does help alleviate the symptoms of asthma.
The Kentucky Receipt Book, Mary Harris Frazer, 1903